Gold Coast Suns player Gary Ablett.
Gold Coast Suns player Gary Ablett. DAVE HUNT

Ablett aiming to leave a long-lasting legacy at Suns

GOLD Coast superstar Gary Ablett has conceded he is in a race against time to win a premiership with the Suns.

But he won't leave the game - or the football outpost - without putting up a fight.

If he must go, he has vowed to be part of the club's first AFL flag by leaving a legacy in his efforts for the rest of his career - as a mentor, sounding board and somebody who set an example.

He's already extended an invitation to new club captains Tom Lynch and Steven May to call him at any time if he can be of help.

At 32, the dual Brownlow Medallist and son of a great is no longer indisputably the best player in the land, but he said his passion is burning as brightly as ever.

Ablett has put talk of a return to the Cats behind him, has recovered from his shoulder operations and is training in trademark Gaz style - refusing to leave a stone unturned or to cut a corner.

He also stepped away from the captaincy, needing more time to get his body right as he enters the autumn of his career.

But as much as he admits he's closer to the end of his career, Ablett hasn't given up on bringing Gold Coast a premiership.

"My body's feeling pretty good,” Ablett said. "As everyone knows, I've had the two shoulder reconstructions over the past couple of years and that's restricted me in getting out on the footy field. But for me it's just about setting new challenges and new goals.

"I've always said that from day one, when I moved up here, it was about helping to mentor the younger guys and helping them get the best out of themselves both as a footballer and a person.

"I don't know how many years I've got left in the body but I'm going to do everything I possibly can to help the Suns win a premiership.

"And if that's not to happen, at the same time I can walk away knowing I did everything I possibly could to help develop these young men.”

For how much longer will Ablett play?

"I've been in this industry for a long time, 15 or 16 years, and obviously it's going to end for me at some point,” Ablett said. "It's hard to give an answer ... I think it can sometimes be just as hard mentally as physically because you really do need to put in the work.

"When you're playing at the top level, it can't be one of those things where you rock up at the club and go through the motions.

"You've got to train to improve every single session. I'll continue to do that until the body and the mind tell me it's enough.”

The notoriously reclusive Ablett snr often escaped the bright lights, but he loved spending time with aspiring young footballers. Junior is the same.

"For Dad, that was always in his heart,” Ablett said. "He grew up in a small country town (Drouin in Gippsland), was a shy kid and I think it was the same for him.

"I remember him saying that to me when I was a kid. It meant a lot to him when he was a young Hawthorn supporter and some of their players came out and spent time.

"It's something that my dad has always encouraged me to do, to get out there and give back where I can. I guess I had a really good role model there.

"Just getting out there and giving back where I can. I can remember what it was like for me as a young kid, going along to football clinics and having my heroes and people that I looked up to just giving you that time to have a kick of the football with you.

"Football's always been a huge part of my family. My dad played at the top level for 15 years, I was lucky enough to play in a grand final with my brother, I've got cousins who have also played at the top level.

"But if I can get out there and use the platform that I've been given to help support young kids coming through ... it's probably more about spending time with them, giving them the time of day.

"I know how special that was to me.”


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